Standardizing early Acadian names

+16 votes

In response to this question that just poped up:

and this one asked by Lianne a little while back:

I have a proposal on how to handle early acadian names that are not consistant in the records. Instead of inventing our own scheme, why not just adapt Stephen White's and use the ones he uses in his "Dictionnaire généalogique des familles acadiennes " (DGFA)?

Of course, the big problem with that is the DGFA is not an online source, and most of us probably don't have our own copy. In my case, it's available at my local library, but not for check-out.

Despite that little issue, I think it makes sense to be consistant with the DGFA since it is probably the most complete, sourced and up-to-date (well, as of its publication in 1999), genealogical reference of early acadians and a collection of books many will use when studying Acadian history and genealogy. 

Perhaps a way to "implement" this on wikitree would be to create a page for Acadian surnames, listing the accepted form, with its variations. For example, my paternal ancestors are listed as ARSENEAU (ARSENAULT, ARCENAUX). Arseneau would be adopted as the form to use until records stabalize to one of the variations for a given profile. The variations Arsenault, Arcenaux and others not mentioned such as Arseneault would be included in the list to help us know what to search for.

For names that would not already be on the list, they could be added without a prefered spelling being chosen in the likely case the DGFA is not avaiable at the time. Later, when I or someone else happens to get access to the DGFA, the list could be updated with the prefered spelling.

Such a list would help me a lot when trying to decide how to merge matching profiles with varying spellings.


in Policy and Style by Roland Arsenault G2G6 Mach 5 (59.6k points)
edited by Roland Arsenault
Here's an example of what I mean. This is from the few copied pages I have from the DGFA.

I've updated the page with info on the purpose of the page and how to update it (by contacting a maintainer and listing myself as such)

I have also tested out the renaming of a few existing profiles starting with Barrieau-10

Unless somone comes up with a good reason not to do so, I will try to end up with standardized names as I merge our Acadian ancestors.

The addition of a sounddex added to Wiki would be great too.  When I search a family name, only that particular spelling comes up, even though I added the original spelling found in the first records to each profile within the family (other last names). Now I have to go back and change each one indiividually since mass-change of  the last name is not an option.  Still, anyone who surfs in with a different spelling will not see my research.
That's a great suggestion Kim. I saw quite a few other questions on G2G suggesting the use of sounddex or expanding wildcards for searches. More flexible searches would definitly help us all who are looking for Acadian profiles with varied spellings, but that involves making changes "under the hood" which is beyond the scope of what I'm proposing.

One way this list of standard names can be helpful in this regard is to list alternate spellings for a surname which we can then use in our searches. I believe searches are suppose to match on alternative last names listed in a profile as well as the last name at birth and current last name, so listing spelling variations in that field should help when searching using spelling variations. For this reason, when I do change a last name, I make sure the version that was there before ends up in the list of alternatives.

About changing existing profiles, doing so one at a time would be a lot of work, as you mention, so I don't think we are ready to launch a standardization campaing quite yet. I think a saner approach is to use the standardize spelling of a name new profiles where the name has not yet stabalized in the records, or when deciding which name to use when merging profiles that have that same problem.

Does this seem like a reasonable approach?
I just some time at the library with the DGFA and updated the list with some of the common early names. If I missed some names you would like checked, let me know and I'll verify them during my next visit.

I agree Stephen White should be the standard.  

Bourdages is not on the list and not in the published volume of the DGFA.  Arsenault used Bourdage for the first generation in PEI (Pierre, who married Marie-Anne Chevalier there in 1721), but then uses Bourdages from there on.  I just checked the earliest Bonaventure marriage for them (in 1800), and the photocopy of the original register shows the name as written Bourdage by the priest.  (One issue we have to consider is that the spelling used by a particular priest is not necessarily the preference of the family.  So just because a priest wrote it, doesn't necessarily mean it's the authentic original spelling.)  I'm guessing Bourdages is going to be similar to Bourque, where the modern families have standardized on a spelling which is not the same as the standard spelling in the early days.  So I guess my reluctant recommendation is that we use Bourdage before 1800, and allow Bourdages after that.  I don't know how to put this to a vote, but I'm sure you'll be able to make it happen.
You bring up a good point about when to transition from a standardized spelling to today's common spelling.

For example, the spelling for my last name still varies in records as recent as for my grand-father! In this case, his name as printed by the priest in his marriage certificate is spelled Arseneault, but he signed Arseneau. The 1921 cesus also has his name spelled as Arseneau, which happens to be the same spelling used by SW. Of course, his first name is misspeled in the census, so the spelling of the last name might just be a coincidence!

It seems like in this case, the transition to the Arsenault spelling would start with my father.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?
I agree that certain names will need a transitioning date.  My mother's maiden name is an example.  Although the original name is more accurately described as a Quebecois, it does occasionally show up on Acadian lists. (I don't know if it is in DGFA, but it is in DGFC).  

The original name was Gallien and some ancestors do still go by that.  From what I've seen, the name morphed to Gallier when my 2nd great grandfather, Joseph Gallier and his siblings  moved from LA to TX as adults in the late 1830's and early 1840's.  

I do put Gallien  under other names for him (and put Gallier as an other name for his father), but not under the Texas descendants.

Does this treatment seem reasonable?
Yes, that sounds just right.

Hi there, I just joined a few minutes ago and intended to read a  while before asking my question. However, something's come up unexprectedly and I can only leave this message. 

As I have Acadian ancestry on both sides, my genealogy has many variants of names. I'm happy to see there's a Standardization going on - long due!

Below is a partial listing of some names I haven't been able to settle. I'm hoping you might be able to help me out on some of them. I've included the entire name as a representation, and as a way to find them in my line quickly.

I promise to come back and review the material already here. Sure wish I had time now! 

Thanks so m uch for your help!

Des Goutins, Mathieu 

Des Gouttins, Alexandre 

deSaintDenys, Louis Charles 

deSaintDenys, Louise Marguerite Juchereau 

Desaulniers, Thomas 

DeSaxony, Edhilda Hedwige 

Desjardins, Flavie 

Desjarlais, Esther 

Desrochers, Jean Baptiste 


LeBert, Marie Josephe 

Baudreau, Jean Baptiste 

Bilodeau, Hippolyte 

Blouin, Gabriel 

Baudreau, Jean Baptiste 

Boissonneault, Marguerite 

Bonnin, Firmin 

Bonnemaison, Jacques 

Villeneuve, Mathilde 

Villic, Scholastique 

Bouchard, Madeleine 

Bourget, Elfard 

Brasseaux, Alcide 

Brasseau, Anne

Bugeauld (Bujold), Pierre Alain 

Brou, Pierre Antoine

Longue-epee, Pierre Louis

Bruneau, Pierre Saturnin

Bugeauld (Bujold), Pierre Alain

dAmours Louiviere, Anastasie

Dore (Champagne), Jean Baptiste

Dugast, George Du Coignet

Duguay, Joseph

Dube, Pierre

Forest, Alexandre

Forestier, Antoine

Foret, Catherine Josephe

Forrestier, Isaac

Fortin, Jean Baptiste Euliphe

de Forest, Michel Geyret

De Brossard, Michel 



Welcome Shirley!

The Acadians list of names according to Stephen White can be found at . It is a work in progress maintained by Roland Arsenault and Annette Cormier for the Acadians project. The A's and B' are complete as are the Rs to Zs.


I have just come across this G2G comment blog, and realize that quite a few of the names are in my ancestry. I also have my DNA results here on WikiTree, and a lot of the information on these ancestors trees are also in my files. I am a member of the Acadian badge and have often wondered how I can document and research the many ancestors of mine to share on WikiTree? I have also used Stephen White's information for my research on Ancestry, 23andMe and here on WikiTree. This Acadian First Families Highlights Appendex will be helpful to me I'm sure.

3 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer
I like this idea a lot. I always use Stephen White's spelling if I know it. My local historical society has a copy, but they have terrible hours so I'm not there very often. Mostly I google the name I'm looking for plus "stephen white".

Thanks for creating that page, Roland! :)
by Liander Lavoie G2G6 Pilot (458k points)
selected by Keith Baker

Thanks for your positive vote Lianne.

Speaking of googling Stephen White, I noticed he uses different spellings for different works. This article for example uses the most common current variation of Arsenault rather than Arseneau as in the DGFA.

My theroy for this apparent "inconsistancy" is that he is targeting different audiences. His series on the 37 host famillies of the '94 retrouvailles was aimed at a general audience, so he used modern spellings and omitted sources. The DGFA on the other hand is aimed at genealogists and familly historians, who would expect name spellings to have "evolved" with the times.

+4 votes
I have the DGFA at home, so can check it any time it's needed.  For later families, I would expect his second volume would cover them if they were in Acadia before the dispersion.  I have consulted it in NB, but just  copied the Babin pages, so I don't know his spellings for later names.
by Living Babbin G2G Crew (850 points)
Lucky you having a copy at home! :)

I wouldn't hold my breath on the arrival of DGFA-2. I heard a revised edition of DGFA-1 is in the works before the arrival of DGFA-2...
Even though it may not be published for years, it does exist and Stephen is very kind and accomodating.  I've consulted it twice--spent 2 days last year copying the entire Babin section into my computer by hand.  The big problem, of course, is the trip to Moncton.  However, I imagine some of us will be in that neighborhood for the 2014 Acadian World Congress, so if we have a list of questions, I'm sure we can resolve them then.

As for the original volume, I missed the printing, which sold out very quickly, but was able to photocopy it onto a thumb drive at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
+1 vote
I like this idea also. As far as transitioning to current spellings, I think that needs to be on an individual basis. It will depend on the family entirely.
by Dawn Ellis G2G6 Pilot (105k points)

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